Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dropped Like a Hot Potato

Yesterday evening, I went on the fast group ride again. Since Clifford has been put back into a road bike(aero bars have been taken off), he's much more fun and powerful to ride in the group. When we started out, some of the guys were trying to coach me on how to stay with the group. "Don't pull for too long, get right behind that big guy and suck his tire." The ring-around-the- rosy game started.

Everything was great for the first ten miles. I had even pulled the long, snake-looking line of bikers three times. The guys would always say, "Okay, that's enough. Come on back." I pulled them only for a minute, I think they were trying to save me. It's kind of scary riding in the extremely tight pack when we are going so fast. I have to keep very alert and focus on the rider ahead of me. I watched his tires and his feet and kept my hands very close to the break. I'm centimeters away from his back tire, I think I'm pretty good at sucking tires! After I did my minute long pulls, it was hard to get back into the pack line without creating a gap. I kept practicing tucking back in quickly. It's as much as a mental game as a physical one.

Around mile 10, people started dropping off to create the "sub" packs of the fast group. When I turned around at mile 12, I realized I was the last person in the "real big boys fast pack". It was the first time I had stayed with the very first group. I stopped pulling to save my energy and stayed in the very back of the line. I was going to do everything I could to stay with this group all the way back to the bike park. A few of the guys were nice, telling me I was doing a great job. I sucked tires for dear life.

Around mile 18, there is a long hill and a left turn at the top of the hill. I was pumping up that hill as fast as my legs would spin. When the first guy made the turn at the top of the hill, I started falling apart. Centimeters of tire sucking turned into inches. I was last in line and the gap was growing. I wasn't sure how I could bridge the gap. If I down shift and spin, I think I lose power. I almost always stay in the big ring, even on hills. Inches turned into feet as I was trying to figure out how to catch up. Once the gap was this wide, I knew it was over. I saw some of the guys turn around and watch me fade. I felt defeated. I thought for a moment maybe they'd slow down and wait for me to catch up but they didn't. I'm glad they didn't because they give me a challenge. One day, I will complete the entire 25 mile loop with the fastest big boys and sprint to the finish. I just have to figure out how.

It's really an awful feeling to watch them pull away. It's different than when you decide to quit or slow down because you make that decision, you are in control. I was trying my hardest and got left anyway, I had no control. I decided I would ride the last 7 miles back alone. I could have waited for one of the "sub" groups behind me but I was ashamed. I decided I would ride those last 7 miles back to the park as fast as I could alone. I know the only way I'll get better is if I push myself.

Does anyone have any advice about how to stay with the pack up the hill and around the left turn? Should I not be very last in line? Is there a trick about gears?
“Defeat may test you; it need not stop you. If at first you don't succeed, try another way. For every obstacle there is a solution. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. The greatest mistake is giving up.”

17 Comments:

At 7:34 AM, Blogger tarheeltri said...

Very exciting post. I think cycling in a group has got to be mental draining riding in such close proximity. Hard core, I tell you. I'll have to try it someday!

I think a lot of it has to do with knowing your gears, which takes time. I always try to ride hills in a gear that allows me to upshift near the top.

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger Brett said...

I rode my first group ride of the year yesterday. I'm still in the B group ... :(

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger Miss Jenny said...

I hate that feeling. Randy always drops me at least once when we ride (and usually he's not even trying! He usually tries to ride at my pace). I always get really cranky at him, but always have to admit later that I am just mad at my own limitations. But it's good to have a challenge to work toward, like you say. I will try to remember that!

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger DaisyDuc said...

I hate that feeling of fading and watching the pack pull further into the distance.

Pushing yourself to ride with all the big boys is bound to reward you down the road!

Tonight I will think of you at my group ride and try to push myself further...just attending this, my second group bike training ever, keeps me out of my comfort zone!

 
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